2013 Oakland Athletics
The 2012 version of the Oakland Athletics came a year or two too late. The A's hadn't had a winning season since 2006; the Athletics shocked the world by sweeping the Rangers on last weekend of the 2012 season to take the AL West crown. It would have been the best P.R. for Moneyball could ever ask for. The team on paper had no business in the playoffs, surpassing the 2010 & 2011 AL champions and a team with a payroll of $145 million dollars. The question now is can they repeat? No longer the little brother, the A's will be the hunted out west.
Manager: Bob Melvin (3rd season, 141 - 93) (2012 AL Manager of the Year)
Hitting coach: Chili Davis
Pitching coach: Curt Young
Closer: RHP Grant Balfour
Jed Lowrie, SS/3B
John Jaso, C
Chris Young, OF
Oakland was expected to be in the basement after the amount of turnover from the 2011 team. A's pitched and homered their way to 15 walk-off wins in 2012 and the AL West championship. It's not necessary "Money Ball", A's almost doubled their homerun total and their OBP slightly dropped from 2011 and 2010. They also had the 28th worst batting average (.238) in the majors. Clearly, Oakland mashed their way to the top of the West. A young team can be expected to take a step forward and surprise the baseball from time to time. (Camera pans over to Astros fan crossing their fingers) But, another year were everyone is having career year can't be expected. I full anticipate the A's to still be ahead of the Astros and Mariners this season. 2013 AL West Champions? No. I won't count them out, the A's are just crazy enough to work again.
Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick were the driving force of Oakland turn around. CoCo Crisp was the leader of the Bernie, but that's another planet heard from. Oakland is a silly place. With Cepedes in the lineup, the A's were 82-47. Look at that again, 82-47, which translates to 102-60 over a whole season! Cepedes has been gold for the A's thus far. Leading the team in AVG (.292) and OBP (.356) in 2012. Reddick, since being traded from Boston for Andrew Bailey, has come into his own. In one year, Reddick had career highs in home runs (32) and RBIs (85). On top of that, Reddick picked up a gold glove in right field in 2012. Cepedes and Reddick are two solid corner pieces for the A's future. Which basically means that Billy Beane has trade bait.
Speaking of Billy boy, he took his 2012 AL West champions and played add-on. Trading for John Jaso, Jaso's career .354 on-base percentage will help the A's push forward. To fill the dumpster fire that was shortstop position in 2012, the A's brought in Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima. Nakajima has solid numbers (.310/.381/.474) in the Japanese Pacific League. Of course, Astros fans know Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is a switchblade of a player, able to play all over the diamond and have quality at-bats. The A's also traded for Chris Young, the one time All-Star most likely won't even be starting for Oakland.
The other half of the Athletics successful equation has been the solid starting pitching, lead by Brett Anderson. Anderson looks sharp after Tommy John surgery in 2010. Brett struck out 25 and walked 7 in 35 innings. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone racked up 371.1 innings collectively and combined record of 23-18. A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily will round out the rotation, attempting to improve upon their first big league action.
2012 was a special year for Oakland that probably won't be replicated. At the very least, the A's will have fun trying to reprise history. I look forward to finding what new magic and madness comes out of the coliseum. Enjoy the bay now before they become the San Jose A's.
Projected Win Total
PECOTA Projection: 83-79 (3rd in West)